The Golden State Warriors face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals 2015, with Game 1 getting us underway from the Oracle Arena on Thursday night.
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This is arguably the match-up that everyone wanted heading into the playoffs, with the Warriors navigating their way past the New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies and Houston Rockets to get here.
Meanwhile, the Cavs made it look easy for the most part even despite the loss of Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving struggling with injury, as they swept the Boston Celtics before seeing off the Chicago Bulls and then claimed another series sweep against the Atlanta Hawks.
However, this will undoubtedly be their toughest test yet and Golden State are heavy favourites with several bookmakers to be crowned NBA Champions 2015 over the next fortnight. Here are five things to know about the NBA Finals 2015.
1. LeBron James five straight Finals
Whether it’s with the Miami Heat or the Cleveland Cavaliers, the one constant in LeBron James’ life over the last five years is that he has made it to the NBA Finals every season.
The 30-year-old returned from South Beach with two titles after he opted to come back to Cleveland last summer, and he will now hope to complete his mission arguably sooner than even he expected.
It hasn’t all been smiles and laughs for the four-time MVP, as he knows how it feels to lose. With Love and Irving struggling, he will need to lead his team into battle to make it 3-2 in his favour.
2. Rookie coaches
Last summer, Steve Kerr pursued David Blatt in a bid to add him to his coaching staff. It was reported that he was close to agreeing, but then the Cavaliers called and the rest is history.
Kerr is a rookie as a coach in the complete sense of the word, as he made the jump from player to analyst and is now enjoying life on the bench as he calls the shots for his team.
He has accumulated a significant amount of experience in the league, including in the front office, but this was his first real taste of coaching and he has relished it.
In contrast, Blatt enjoyed great success in Europe prior to arriving in the league, but after all the troubles he faced when he first arrived, he has done an impressive job of keeping it all together.
3. 40 year drought for Warriors
Golden State’s last championship came back in 1975. Cleveland has of course been waiting longer, but this will be a real breakthrough for the league with a different name etched in the history books after years of familiar names.
No disrespect to the likes of the Los Angeles Lakers or San Antonio Spurs, but it will be a refreshing change to see one of these two teams lift the Larry O’Brien trophy in the coming weeks and they will have thoroughly deserved it.
4. Stephen Curry facing 1st team All-NBA
The Warriors point guard won’t have done it the easy way as he will become the first player in NBA history to face each of the other four members of the 1st-team All-NBA in the same playoff run.
Golden State have advanced past the Pelicans, Grizzlies, Rockets and potentially the Cavs, and they will certainly owe a huge amount to the league MVP who has been sensational all year.
Naturally, the duels haven’t all been direct, but seeing off Anthony Davis, Marc Gasol and James Harden is a pretty impressive effort.
Steph Curry will become 1st player NBA history to face each of other 4 members of 1st-team All-NBA in same playoffs. pic.twitter.com/Ge5aBcqyD3
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) May 28, 2015
5. Oracle Arena
There is an argument to suggest that every arena in the NBA is loud. However, there is loud and then there is Oracle loud as this place has the best atmosphere in the league.
The Warriors have lost just three games at home all season, so it isn’t a coincidence that their passionate and raucous home fans have just turned up and watched them dominate.
LeBron has insisted that he has played in loud arenas all his career, and he has a point when you consider he has faced the wrath of Boston and Chicago on many occasions.
However, this feels different and Golden State will hope to take advantage of it by making a strong start to the series in front of their home crowd and feeding off their energy to protect home court.